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February 2006

A grabbag of tech stuff for Friday.

When you absolutely, positively have to have the data from a broken hard drive back--barbecued hard drive, anyone?--call the hard drive healers.

A possible way to avoid needing a hard drive healer is to store a backup online.

Convert web pages, Word docs, and Excel docs to Adobe .pdf format, online, free. (I haven't tried it.)

Play and store music in your Google e-mail account.

23 ways to speed up Win XP. More ways to "make your Windows fast as never before".

FolderShare: "allows you to create a private peer-to-peer network that will help you to synchronize files across multiple devices and access or share files with colleagues and friends." Free from your pals at Microsoft.

Lots of people talking about this. Some--Steve Levitt, for one--find it disappointing. Others find it amazing. Even if it's somewhat inaccurate, it's another attention-getting instance of how much information about your personal business is now a few mouse clicks away from anyone on the Net: Zillow.com, "Free, Instant Valuations and Data for 60,000,000+ Homes".

Lots of people online are talking about "To Professor@University.edu  Subject: Why It's All About Me".

Apparently, some student e-mails assume an unwarranted familiarity with professors; implied is a lack of respect. Why, the article asks, should students have so little respect for their professors? A faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education is quoted to the effect that students don't respect professors because they realize the professors' "expertise could become rapidly outdated".

I don't buy that at all. Thanks for playing the game, Harvard.

A second explanation offered is "their expertise seems to have become just another service that students, as consumers, are buying."

Bzzzzt.  Better, but sill wrong. And what nice prize do we have for the runner-up, Johnny?

The correct answer is left as an extra credit problem for the reader.


(Cambridge, MA) At 2:30 today the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences will hold an emergency meeting to consider a vote of no confidence in President George W. Bush.

Professor Karl Mummenphlatz, Professor of Philosophic Epistemology and Chairperson of the A and S Faculty, said, "I expect the president to lose overwhelmingly. Then the bum will have no choice but to resign in a week or two." Professor Pepe LePew, Professor of French Literature, agreed: "It's about time we at Harvard threw that bastard out."

When this reporter informed the two professors that the U.S. government doesn't run the same way as the Harvard Corporation and Harvard University, they were aghast. "It doesn't?" Professor Mummenphlatz asked. "Why didn't someone tell us? Oh, the faculty will be really angry now! I'll appoint a special select committee to look into this. The faculty of Harvard will RISE UP and fix this problem, you can depend on it!"


Russell Roberts speaks to someone who claims that nationalized health care in Britain is ". . . great for children, but as you get older and older, the attitude is 'you've had your turn so you have access to fewer medical resources.'"

That coincides with my intuition. The cries for "rationing" health care will grow ever-louder in this country, and however the criers might try to disguise it, the rationing they want will fall squarely on older people.The folks who hate the Baby Boomer generation--there's lots, you know who you are--will join forces with the Leon Kass-types who think death is ennobling and with former Governor of Colorado Richard Lamm (". . .old people have a duty to die and get out of the way") and with all the folks who are too busy to help take care of their aging parents and with Mrs. Clinton who wants to do everything for "the children"--fetuses excepted--and they will declare: we don't want to spend money on you old folks anymore.

Which is horribly sad, and I hope they don't win.

But on a lighter note, this reminds me of a movie scene, from Young Doctors in Love (directed by the reliable Garry Marshall and starring a young Sean Young). An old man--an old, old man--as wrinkled as anybody you've ever seen, goes to the emergency room of the hospital. The arrogant young doctor (Michael McKean) snaps, "What's your problem?" Old man: "Doc, I can't piss anymore." Doctor, after taking a long look at the old man, "Old Timer, haven't you pissed enough?"

If you're in the mood for a send-up of all the ER-type shows, I give it two thumbs up.